Car Feature: Detroit Speed’s Redemption Third-Gen Test Car

Photos by: Scott Schwartz

After an Unfortunate Event at the Track with Their First Third-Gen, Detriot Speed Needed to Redeem Themselves with this 1987 Camaro

Detroit Speed has noticed a huge upswing in third-gen F-Body enthusiasts in recent years, and wanted to jump on aftermarket offerings for suspension and body parts to accommodate the new demand. So a few years back now, they picked up a 1988 Chevy Camaro as their test mule for their current third-gen lineup, and to create new offerings for the application as well.

Unfortunately, a bad track day for the car would leave it damaged, and the team decided that it was not fit for a rebuild after extensive inspection. This paved the way for the crew acquiring a new third-gen as a way to showcase their line of 1982-1992 F-Body suspension and body parts. 

The goal for the build was to create something that would be right at home on the streets, as well as the track, and that’s exactly what DSE accomplished. Their 1987 Camaro DSE-Z project exemplifies the quality and functionality of the Detroit Speed line. This 11 month build is already hitting the track and proving its worth in the third-gen community. 

“The DSE-Z 1987 Camaro was built here at Detroit Speed, Inc. to showcase our line of 1982-92 F-Body suspension and body products. The goal for the car was to build something that will be at home on the street as well as the track. That is exactly what we got!  This car is the “redemption” from our previous 1988 Camaro that was developed and wrecked in a testing accident.” – Detriot Speed

Powering the Camaro is a MAST Motorsports Black Label GM LS7 crate engine that easily revs to 8,500 rpm, while it makes its hefty naturally aspirated 725 horsepower at 7,400 rpm and 538 lbs-ft of torque at 5,500 rpm. This engine gives the power it needs to put on a show as it is complete with top-of-the-line modifications. 

The 427 cubic inch aluminum block engine runs with a 12.0:1 compression ratio and while the exact details are kept secret, we do know that it uses a Callies Magnum crankshaft, Diamond pistons, Callies Ultra I-beam connecting rods, and an ARE dry-sump oil pan. In addition, it has titanium 2.200” intake valves and 1.600” exhaust valves, and T&D shaft-mounted 1.8:1 rocker arms. 

A Holley Dominator EFI system and Holley EFI throttle body keep the engine fed with the help of an MSD Atomic AirForce intake manifold. A custom fiber duct is mounted in the turn signal recess to pull in the most air into the air intake system. The setup breathes out through a set of Hooker Blackheart 1-7/8” LS swap headers that run int a custom 3” x-pipe and Stainless Works resonators. 

Backing the engine is a Bowler Transmission built Tremec T-56 Magnum 6-speed manual transmission with Centerforce twin disc clutch and Centerforce flywheel with Tremec shifter. Power is moved from the drivetrain through a Dynotech aluminum driveshaft. Before it hits the pavement, power is fed into a Ford 9” rearend with 4.11:1 gear and Moser axles. Detroit Speed added their own C6/C7 full floater axle kit to the Camaro. Steering is improved by a Detroit Speed, Inc. 600 Steering Gear steering box. 

The chassis and suspension is (obviously) where Detroit Speed really shows off their craftsmanship. A Complete Detroit Speed, Inc. Speed Kit 3 Front Suspension System is accompanied by Detroit tuned JRI struts/coilover and Detroit Speed springs at all four corners. DSE control arms are found up front with their QUADRALink control arms with Swivel Link technology at the rear. Front and rear sway bars are also supplied by Detroit Speed, as are a set of weld-in subframe connectors, and a panhard bar with Swivel Link technology. 

Baer 6R brakes give the powerful car its stopping power, and BFGoodrich Rival S 315/30/18 rubbers wrapped around Formula 43 RAD5 18×11” wheels keep the car squared off for autocross and provide a lot of planting power as well. 

When they got the car, it was in decent shape, but a PPG GM Bright Blue Metallic refinish was needed to make it shine like new. A custom front bumper structure was added to adapt a laminated carbon splitter.  The front bumper has been extensively modified to mold to the splitter (stinger fiberglass bumper). Trackspec Motorsports functional hood louvers with custom rain tray were added to the factory fiberglass flat hood, and a Hawks Motorsports 5” spoiler gives people something to drool over while it’s walking away. 

Inside are Cobra LeMans black leather seats, upholstered by Robert McCarter. A custom Detroit Speed 6-point rollcage and a Schroth Racing harness add to driver’s safety. Other interior upgrades include the addition of a Vintage Air heat/defrost system, custom seat brackets.

Max Papis Innovations steering wheel, a custom gauge/switch panel, custom hatch mounted weight ballast, custom shifter/trim ring, and AutoMeter gauges are also found inside.

Even on worn tires, this Camaro is capable of running a 11.11 quarter mile E/T at 130.30 mph. The worn tires are evident by the 1.885 60ft’ time, which means this Camaro has a lot left in it.


“We hope that as we compete, this car that it will raise awareness to the quality and functionality of our products.”-Detriot Speed

  • CAR: 1987 Camaro DSE-Z 
  • OWNER: Detroit Speed, Inc. 
  • ENGINE BLOCK: 427 Cu. In.
  • CRANKSHAFT: Callies Magnum
  • PISTONS: Diamond
  • EXHAUST: Hooker Blackheart 1 7/8” LS Swap Headers, 3” custom x-pipe, Stainless Works resonator 
  • OILING: ARE dry-sump oil pan and ARE oil pump
  • TRANSMISSION: Tremec Magnum T-56
  •  CLUTCH: Centerforce Twin-Disc
  • SHIFTER: Tremec
  • REAREND: 9” Ford rearend with 4.11 gears and Moser axles
  • SUSPENSION: Complete Detroit Speed overhaul 
  • BRAKES: Baer 6R
  • WHEELS: Formula 43 RAD5 18×11”
  • TIRES: BFGoodrich Rival S 315/30/18
  • HP/TQ.: 725hp/538 lbs.-ft of torque 
  • BEST 1/4-MILE ET: 11.11 @ 130.39 mph

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